KBOO plans to destroy its own union?
Last night's Board meeting blew the lid off a plan to gut the unionized Staff and the "unfriendly" programming at KBOO...
POWER IN A UNION?
Earlier this month, during the KBOO Membership Drive, a letter signed by a supermajority of KBOO Staff was openly and publicly presented to the KBOO Station Manager, Lynn Fitch. The letter established the existence of Communications Workers Of America Union Local 7901. Those of us "in the know" hoped that Ms. Fitch would then announce her intention to cooperate with the new Union. After all, KBOO has built its member base, in part, on its solidarity with workers' and peoples' struggles in the USA, Cascadia, and the world. Ms. Fitch, however, was silent, even to the extent of keeping the information from the elected President of the KBOO Board, Stephen Conser.
THE HIERARCH STRIKES BACK
We now know that Ms. Fitch began to quietly meet with representatives of the $5 billion corporation Paychex/HR Solutions, and with select members of the Board, to develop a retaliatory plan that would, in her words, "lay off and fire" KBOO staff (some of whom have worked there for decades), and overhaul KBOO programming, apparently without the historic open process at KBOO. When it was pointed out to her that this would betray the long-stated intent of KBOO membership, and violate the 1935 Labor Relations Act, she claimed that the LRA "might not apply to nonprofits." Tonight, KBOO staff are wondering if they will have a job next week.
ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE NOW?
What would this new, zombie KBOO look and sound like? Information from one KBOO Board member points to less "confrontative" local programming. Perhaps, it was suggested, Thom Hartman could be put on the air as a sop to local leftists (though that seems doubtful, should he catch wind of the union-busting plan). The new KBOO would have less anger and, presumably, more funding from the corporations that were up to now the target of that anger.
The Board was told that these changes were necessary because of a shortfall of funds--though KBOO's Membership Drive came up only a few thousand short, an amount easily made up with further on-air fundraising, and likely already eclipsed by other sources including local business revenues and a recent bequest. (KBOO also has some thousands in reserve.) However, the Board then responded by voting a raise for Ms. Fitch, in an eerie echo of major US corporate practice.
THE PEOPLE'S REPRESENTATIVES
The KBOO Board currently includes one Hadrian Miccichie, a former member of the now-dissolved KRAB Community Radio. Mr. Micchie has indicated his enthusiasm for shutting down the transmitter at KBOO, thus silencing the community radio station. Another Board member, Michael Papadopolous, was inserted on the Board by a judge after he won an expensive suit against KBOO over his eligibility as a foreign citizen to serve. The KBOO Board's Financial Officer, Paula Small, announced during last night's meeting that she had implemented changes to the check signing list, evidently to facilitate the firing process.
The KBOO Board announced that KBOO will be holding a General Membership Meeting. According to KBOO's publicly filed Bylaws, a General Meeting trumps decisions of the Board, when two-thirds of a quorum (about three hundred) vote in favor. However, in the past, General Meetings rarely make quorum. KBOO activists are determined to make this one an exception. The meeting will be held on or about May Fourth, and the venue is yet to be announced.
As a KBOO activist since 1990, I urge the KBOO membership and the public to delve into these issues, and to prevent the loss of Cascadia's beloved community radio station.
This report draws from personal interviews with KBOO volunteers, Staff, and Board members. It also reflects my personal opinion as an activist in US popular organizations, going back to the 1980s.
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